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San Antonio City Council District 3 Race 2021

DISTRICT 3.png

Note: Names are listed in order of appearance on the ballot according to the city clerks' office. Answers from candidates have not been edited or fact-checked.

For TPR's full Voter Guide, click here.


Rodolfo “Rudy” Lopez

Did not respond.*


Mark Arthur Vargas, Jr.

Q: What is your experience with city government? For instance, have you ever served on a city board or commission?

A: I have served on one commission, the San Antonio Youth Commission from 2010-2014, representing District 3. The organization serves as a linkage for the San Antonio City Council and the youth populace of the city. During my tenure, I served as Secretary, Chairman and Vice-Chairman we served as instrumental partners with groups like SA2020, where Mayor Castro challenged the city to determine what San Antonio should look like in 2020. We also became founding organizational partners for Destination College Week, a week-long celebration dedicated to getting the city excited for College. We became nationally recognized by Michelle Obama when she launched her Reach Higher initiative in 2014 at our College Signing Day. I have also served as an SA2020 Ambassador where I have worked with the organization to further the goals we set over the last decade and have continued in this capacity as we look to the next decade.

Q: What is an issue relevant to your specific district that you would like to change or address?

A: One overarching priority for my campaign has been District 3 Revitalization. To achieve this, we have to address the underlying issues of inequity and inequality that I saw first hand as a College and Career Readiness Counselor. We need to pursue smart development within District 3, pursuing development that is requested and wanted by the residents of our district, ensuring that they are a part of the conversations and addressing their needs. Yes, that means fixing our roads, adding sidewalks, and creating more bike lanes. But this also means working on the big problems, such as the food deserts in our District and the digital divide. District 3 is the largest in San Antonio, 84 square miles, yet many of our residents are not benefiting from the growth we have experienced over the past decade. As much as 60% of our citizens in some zip codes do not have a stable wi-fi connections. In 2021, where everything from school, work, and even doctor's visits are online- we need an accessible city-wide connection that is free for residents. For our residents who do not have a grocery store within 15 or even 20 miles of a big box store, we cannot allow the solution to be they get fresh food at a corner store, while more fast food chains are built. And for Public Safety, it is high-time that we get our own substation to address the rising crime rates, domestic violence, drug abuse, and homelessness issues. That is why I want and am pushing for a public safety substation that has officers, mental health and clinical psychiatrists, social workers for domestic and drug abuse, and community partners to serve as a beacon for our community. We do not need a band-aid fix after this pandemic, we need unprecedented solutions. These types of initiatives are examples of the smart development we need to pursue. This is how we can successfully revitalize our community while ensuring the future of San Antonio runs through District 3.

Q: If you are challenging an incumbent, why do you feel there needs to be a change in leadership and why are you the right person for that change?

A: While not directly challenging an incumbent, I am facing two very prominent political families, including the incumbent's family. We should not have to settle in District 3, we deserve better than the same tired politics that has dominated our side of town for decades. For nearly half of my life, 12 years to be exact, I have been fighting for causes that I am passionate about that affect our community. Since I started my career, I have had the pleasure of serving as the College and Career Readiness counselor at the high school I graduated from. I served students grades 5th-12th and their families, discovering the diversity of our district and the needs of our people. They deserve a fighter and I intend to be that person for them at City Hall. I do not come with any of the political baggage or the conflicts of interests that some of the other candidates may have. I am proud to represent a new generation of representation that is sorely needed on city council.

Q: Voters will decide on Proposition B this May — a potential repeal of collective bargaining rights for the San Antonio Police Officers Association. Do you support repealing collective bargaining or do you believe it should remain in place?

A: I want to make one thing clear: this is not a question on defunding the police, nor is this a question worker's rights. This is a question about police accountability. After hearing arguments from both SAPOA and FixSAPD, I came to the conclusion that police accountability should not be up for negotiation, especially since our officers might find themselves making a life-or-death decision. Right now, there have been one, too many, officers who have been fired but was able to appeal their firing through arbitration, undermining the authority of our police chief and harming the credibility of the vast majority of officers who do good. That process should not exist for our officers and for that I am voting yes on Prop B. This does not defund the police department, I am not in favor of defunding the police department because we do not have a police substation in our district, something that I do not think we can get for defunding. I also support our unions in their efforts to have fair and equal rights for their workers. I am glad the voters are getting a chance to vote on this after nearly 50 years. If collective bargaining stays and I am elected, I will not fight to remove it. I believe it is important that your representatives are honest with you, which is why I am sharing my vote. No matter the outcome I will still fight for better pay for our officers, a substation in District 3, and removing bad cops.

Q: Many residents have called for significant discipline reform for San Antonio Police officers in contract negotiations which are being debated right now between the city and the police union. What changes or reform — if any — would you like to see?

A: There are a few reforms that I believe are important for the next police contract. We need to remove the 48 hour prep time that an officer has once an investigation begins. This is counter to what the average citizen gets when an arrest is made. We also need to be sure that the 180 day timeline period begins when an officer's supervisor learns of a possible defense, not when it may have occurred. These are unfair practices that treat bad officers above the law, and we cannot allow that to continue. Past offenses should be allowed as evidence towards the conduct of an officer and we must allow the police chief to have the authority to clean up the department of officers who do not uphold their oath to this community.

Q: Voters passed the Ready to Work SA initiative in November which creates funding for job training and support services like childcare for people to seek new trades — especially for those who lost their job in the pandemic — using a sales tax for the next five years. Do you feel this was the right approach to addressing not only job losses but to also grow the talent pool for industries in San Antonio?

A: I believe it was a good choice, but now we must make sure that we are taking the necessary steps to ensure the program's success. We need to target those who have been adversely affected by this pandemic, getting those that have yet to find a job since losing theirs last year, as well as recent college graduates who have dealt with an unkind job market. I want to see this program address the generational poverty issue that many people in District 3 suffer from. That means utilizing these trainings to get people into living wage jobs that can lift them and their families out of this cycle and start to build a better life in our district. In our backyard, we have a wealth of major companies (Toyota, TJ Maxx, Amazon) for workers to start careers, but I want to see our residents get those jobs to further our economic growth.

Q: What changes — if any — do you feel are needed at CPS Energy and the San Antonio Water System following the winter storm?

A: I am open to some reforms within both SAWS and CPS Energy. This includes possible term limits for the CEOs, with no less than 16 years minimum and salary caps for top positions within the companies. What happened during the Winter Storm was a failure at all levels, local and state. Our energy and local leaders should have done more to prepare our residents and need to learn from the mistakes of February. With that being said, there have been numerous calls among residents about the types of deals and development that both companies pursue, such as the recent Vista Ridge project. I believe we should listen to what our tax payers have to say rather than shun them as disgruntled residents.

Q: What is one policy or priority that you would introduce as a council consideration request that has not already been submitted or considered?

A: It is time that San Antonio's City Council introduces and passes an Equality Act for our residents in the city. We cannot count on the state or federal government to grant protections to our residents, especially within the LGBTQIA+ community. With polarization at an all time high, all it takes is a change-over from a presidential administration to strip away protections that they should be afforded. We are a compassionate city, we need to act like one. An Equality Act can protect all residents, regardless of their orientation or gender identity for housing, jobs, health care, and services. I am proud to be an ally and I am looking forward to working with my colleagues to pass this ordinance.


Rafael C. Vela

Q: What is your experience with city government? For instance, have you ever served on a city board or commission?

A: I have no prior experience with city government

Q: What is an issue relevant to your specific district that you would like to change or address?

A: Find a solution to our growing homeless population, make our city ADA accessible, help small businesses and keep funding our police

Q: If you are challenging an incumbent, why do you feel there needs to be a change in leadership and why are you the right person for that change?

A: I feel we need someone who will do what they set out to do. I understand it takes time for this but I’m willing to be here for our city and community

Q: Voters will decide on Proposition B this May — a potential repeal of collective bargaining rights for the San Antonio Police Officers Association. Do you support repealing collective bargaining or do you believe it should remain in place?

A: I believe it should remain in place

Q: Many residents have called for significant discipline reform for San Antonio Police officers in contract negotiations which are being debated right now between the city and the police union. What changes or reform — if any — would you like to see?

A: Due process for officers who violate what the badge stands for, to make sure money allocated to the police force is being used correctly and make sure future training is being held and managed properly

Q: Voters passed the Ready to Work SA initiative in November which creates funding for job training and support services like childcare for people to seek new trades — especially for those who lost their job in the pandemic — using a sales tax for the next five years. Do you feel this was the right approach to addressing not only job losses but to also grow the talent pool for industries in San Antonio?

A: If we need to raise the tax slightly to get back on track job wise then we should.

Q: What changes — if any — do you feel are needed at CPS Energy and the San Antonio Water System following the winter storm?

A: Adequate updates to the systems they use and better preparations to handle such times

Q: What is one policy or priority that you would introduce as a council consideration request that has not already been submitted or considered?

A: Revisiting of building codes to see if we can use them for homeless shelters or if we can get rid of them to have space for future development


Angela Cardona

Q: What is your experience with city government? For instance, have you ever served on a city board or commission?

A: I got my start with city government as an intern with the office of Mayor Castro and continued to work as Director of Constituent Services and Chief of Operations and Strategic Initiatives for District 3 for 6 years. I served as the President and Vice President of my Neighborhood Association and worked as a Zoning Planner for the City.

Q: What is an issue relevant to your specific district that you would like to change or address?

A: The main issue that I am hearing from the neighborhoods, is that we need some type of protection for our aging communities, both in infrastructure and senior citizens. We need to make sure we are educating our seniors so that they know how to appeal their appraisals, despite benefitting from their qualified freeze. We also need to consider low to no cost interest loans that will aid in aging structures. I don’t see a lot of that protection now. I see myself championing that for our seniors.

Q: If you are challenging an incumbent, why do you feel there needs to be a change in leadership and why are you the right person for that change?

A: Although there is no incumbent to go against, I do believe there needs to be a shift in leadership. The community has taken notice that the same group of leaders continue to seek office and that there is not a lot of change being done for what they have asked for. With my background of working in the Mayor's office, as Director of Constituent Services for District 3 and working with neighborhood association leaders, I have the knowledge to respond to our community needs. I have always had a servant heart and acted as a servant leader. For the last 10 years I have been part of the community conversations. Now a culmination of life events, and my passion have aligned to this moment. We’re in a very critical time of need. I am prepared to step out from behind the scene and on to the dais. Less so for myself, but more for my community.

Q: Voters will decide on Proposition B this May — a potential repeal of collective bargaining rights for the San Antonio Police Officers Association. Do you support repealing collective bargaining or do you believe it should remain in place?

A: I believe that now is the time for our community to make their voices heard at the polls. I am prepared to move forward in supporting their decision and helping navigate the necessary conversations based on the outcome of the vote. While I do believe reform is needed, I am concerned the impact this will have on the SAFD ability to have a say in their matters, as CH 174 also includes them. I have yet to hear how this matter will be resolved .

Q: Many residents have called for significant discipline reform for San Antonio Police officers in contract negotiations which are being debated right now between the city and the police union. What changes or reform — if any — would you like to see?

A: I would like to see changes on how the disciplinary action is carried out with police officers and to see more individualized enforcement had with the handling of the officers that are in the wrong doing.

Q: Voters passed the Ready to Work SA initiative in November which creates funding for job training and support services like childcare for people to seek new trades — especially for those who lost their job in the pandemic — using a sales tax for the next five years. Do you feel this was the right approach to addressing not only job losses but to also grow the talent pool for industries in San Antonio?

A: While I do agree that voters made the right decision in passing the Ready to Work SA initiative to address the need for workforce training and support, I feel we missed the opportunity to successfully reach those in need of the resources and can better connect with those needing these services.

Q: What changes — if any — do you feel are needed at CPS Energy and the San Antonio Water System following the winter storm?

A: I would like to see CPS and SAWS share a contingency plan for how they will approach their response to public emergencies.

Q: What is one policy or priority that you would introduce as a council consideration request that has not already been submitted or considered?

A: A policy that I would like to bring is making sure our students have options for being successful right out of high school. I come from a family of trade. My son and brother are welders. My father and grandfather were blacksmith's. Our family has had a prominent business for 100 years on the West side, serving all of San Antonio. The business community has voiced that they are looking to teach our students about entrepreneurship and develop a workforce training pipeline. We’re seeing economic development dollars that can support or produce these types of initiatives and I’d like to see that being done.


Walter Murray

Did not respond.*


Ted Gonzalez

Did not respond.*


Katherine Herrera Garza

Did not respond.*


Tomas Uresti

Did not respond.*


Phyllis Viagran

Q: What is your experience with city government? For instance, have you ever served on a city board or commission?

A: I worked for the City of San Antonio as a community service specialist with the San Antonio Police Department, where I advocated for victims of domestic abuse. I also worked with the public-private Visit San Antonio who contracted with the city.

Q: What is an issue relevant to your specific district that you would like to change or address?

A: My most immediate priority is getting the vaccine out to the community, especially our front line workers, senior residents, homebound residents, and at risk residents. As councilwoman, my priorities include addressing the digital divide by bringing broadband infrastructure to our neighborhoods, providing an opportunity for seniors to age in place with dignity, preventing and reducing domestic violence, and ensuring our residents get back to work.

Q: Voters will decide on Proposition B this May — a potential repeal of collective bargaining rights for the San Antonio Police Officers Association. Do you support repealing collective bargaining or do you believe it should remain in place?

A: Collective Bargaining is a critical part of labor negotiations and we should not take that away from any unions or associations that can not strike. 174 was a result of 143 inability to keep politics out of the police department. Adding a charter amendment regarding police accountability would be something a commission could come together and bring forward. As a city and a district I think we need additions not subtractions.

Q: Many residents have called for significant discipline reform for San Antonio Police officers in contract negotiations which are being debated right now between the city and the police union. What changes or reform — if any — would you like to see?

A: As Councilwoman and a District 3 resident I will ask for more vetting of the arbitrators to make sure any implicit bias they may have is identified. I would like to see a longer period of time to examine the complaints to expand to 8 to 12 months. Finally, I would like to see more citizen input especially on the issues of domestic violence and implementation of NDO.

Q: Voters passed the Ready to Work SA initiative in November which creates funding for job training and support services like childcare for people to seek new trades — especially for those who lost their job in the pandemic — using a sales tax for the next five years. Do you feel this was the right approach to addressing not only job losses but to also grow the talent pool for industries in San Antonio?

A: Yes, I feel this is the right approach. I will focus on the short and the long term goals of workforce development.

Q: What changes — if any — do you feel are needed at CPS Energy and the San Antonio Water System following the winter storm?

A: We need to expand the CPS Energy board to 7 members like the SAWS Board as well as see better interagency communication and coordination across the board. When there is a breakdown in communication it should reflect in the performance reviews and customer service scores of the agencies. I believe we need annual reviews of CPS, SAWS, SAHA, and all emergency operation plans and procedures for natural and man made disasters. The Emergency Operation Center should have these plans on file.

Q: What is one policy or priority that you would introduce as a council consideration request that has not already been submitted or considered?

A: I would like to expand the role of the City’s Disability Access Advisory Committee so that their decisions and opinions would be used by other Boards, committees and commissions. I would like to work with my council members to create a City/County commission. This commission would consist of City and County community representatives who will focus on disabled San Antonians and the needs of their community. It is important this board includes those directly from the disabled community. This leadership will provide better oversight and have power to make recommendations to the City and County. This commission would include members of the Disability Access Advisory Committee and give direction to our Disability Access office as we move forward with our 2022 bond.


Stephen “Steve” Valdez

Did not respond.*


Marcello Martinez

Q: What is your experience with city government? For instance, have you ever served on a city board or commission?

A: I was a Planning Commissioner for 8 years, half of that as Chair. I have also served on the SAWS rate advisory committee, the Westside TIRZ board, and the Alamo Plaza Citizens Advisory Committee.

Q: What is an issue relevant to your specific district that you would like to change or address?

A: Within the first 6 months of being in office, I will complete a Neighborhood by Neighborhood site survey. We will make a comprehensive list of infrastructure needs, code compliance violations, and any other concerns. By working hand in hand with the neighborhood residents and neighborhood associations, we will make an actionable priority list to execute these projects and improvements. We will help continue to stabilize our neighborhoods, making residency a priority choice. We have various tools at our disposal. We will work to strengthen existing neighborhood plans, create and strengthen conservation districts, so that long time neighborhoods can remain affordable and as first choice options for living. Through creative urban planning strategies, we will keep our identity, as we continue to grow and thrive.

Q: If you are challenging an incumbent, why do you feel there needs to be a change in leadership and why are you the right person for that change?

A: This is an open seat which has attracted 12 candidates (be sure to vote for #11 on the ballot). Among the 12 of us, I bring a unique mix of experience and freshness. I have been involved in the workings our of City my entire career. As an Architect, I have devoted my professional career to improving our city through my efforts in the built environment. I have also been active in our community, and am well versed in the challenges facing our neighborhoods through my service and 8 years on the City Planning Commission. My career is one of building consensus, taking input and making decisions based upon real world information.

Q: Voters will decide on Proposition B this May — a potential repeal of collective bargaining rights for the San Antonio Police Officers Association. Do you support repealing collective bargaining or do you believe it should remain in place?

A: I am opposed to Proposition B for multiple reasons. First, I am not in favor of removing collective bargaining power from a union. Second, I do not think this proposition will achieve the intended effect of behavioral police reform. Like everyone else, I vehemently object to unethical police officers; their position in society needs to be held to a high standard, with transparent accountability. To be plain, good cops also do not like bad cops. Reform will be achieved by sitting at the same table and negotiating.

Q: Many residents have called for significant discipline reform for San Antonio Police officers in contract negotiations which are being debated right now between the city and the police union. What changes or reform — if any — would you like to see?

A: I agree with discipline reform. I would like to see us eliminate the rule that prohibits Police Chief William McManus from disciplining an officer 180 days after an incident. I disagree with the arbitrator’s power to overturn police chief disciplinary decisions. And disciplinary records older than 180 days should be allowed to be introduced in hearings so that the full context of the case is understood.

Q: Voters passed the Ready to Work SA initiative in November which creates funding for job training and support services like childcare for people to seek new trades — especially for those who lost their job in the pandemic — using a sales tax for the next five years. Do you feel this was the right approach to addressing not only job losses but to also grow the talent pool for industries in San Antonio?

A: This is a significant initiative with great potential, and it needs to be implemented thoughtfully. We need to ensure that we prepare individuals for careers, not just jobs. This means we should provide wrap-around services including career and academic coaching, success coaching and tutoring, financial and crisis support, job readiness, and job placement. Once in the workforce, they should have the flexibility to advance their career how they see fit, which includes changing employers if they wish, due do having an in-demand skillset.

Q: What changes — if any — do you feel are needed at CPS Energy and the San Antonio Water System following the winter storm?

A: Transparency and communication are vitally important with our utilities. This was an unprecedented event, but the next one will not be. It will be unfair to pass this high cost of essential energy (electricity and gas) on to customers, nor should we accept special fees to be paid over years. The CoSA, CPS, and SAWS must be prepared for the next major event. We must find a reliable way to reach out people. In my office, through a face to face field survey, we will create a senior network throughout our district, so that we know which of our neighbors does not access information digitally, and we will be able to inform them.

Q: What is one policy or priority that you would introduce as a council consideration request that has not already been submitted or considered?

A: I am interested in a strategy that will have multiple benefits. We currently have an energy code that is well considered in the weatherization standards of new construction. If Proposition A passes, we will ensure those homes are built to be as weatherized as possible. But most of our buildings and homes have been built before these standards were in place. There are many homes throughout our city, including District 3, that have severely inadequate weather protection. If we improve this existing housing stock, we will: • Support the goals of the SA Climate Ready, Action and Adaptation Plan • Reduce the load upon our energy grid • Help retain the affordable homes we already have • Lower the energy bill our citizens pay every month • Have homes in better shape to withstand the next severe weather event – hot or cold. Thank you for your attention. Please find more about what we can do together at www.marcellomartinez.com. And please vote!


Diana Flores Uriegas

Did not respond.*


* denotes candidates who did not respond to survey requests sent via email and/or phone calls by time of publication.

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